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Sports

In a progressively more global and sophisticated sector, our international, cross-practice sports sector team provide clients
with innovative, commercial and tailored solutions to the most complex and challenging matters within the sports industry

The sports sector is a major international growth market that is at the forefront of digital development and consumer engagement, providing stakeholders with both significant development and return opportunities as well as increasingly more complex and sophisticated challenges.

Our global, cross-practice sports sector team combines a real passion and understanding of the sector and its specific requirements and pressures (including increased regulatory scrutiny) with exceptional multi-jurisdictional expertise across all areas of corporate/M&A, finance and banking, capital markets and equity financing, commercial, technology and media, crisis management, data protection, IP, dispute resolution, regulatory and compliance investigations, real estate, restructuring and insolvency, anti-trust, employment and tax matters. This puts us in a unique position to be able to provide our clients with a full and seamless end-to-end service in order to help them successfully navigate the most complex and high-profile matters arising in the sector.

Technological innovation is also rapidly transforming the sports sector, including through the development of eSports and the increased monetisation of sports data. Together with our dedicated Fintech and Technology sector teams, we are able to provide clients with an unparalleled multi-jurisdictional depth of legal, commercial and regulatory expertise.

Our clients include corporates, financial sponsors and high-net-worth individuals as well as sports teams, clubs and governing and regulatory bodies, who we act as trusted advisors to in relation to a full range of matters, including:

  • M&A and investment opportunities (including investments in clubs/teams and competitions and acquisitions of media and television rights)
  • debt and equity financing and securitisations
  • a variety of commercial matters that affect individuals, teams and bodies within the sector (including sponsorship, branding, image rights, IP, data protection and events planning)
  • dispute resolution and reputation management
  • a wide scope of regulatory and anti-trust matters (including large-scale investigations and governance and compliance reviews)
  • real estate transactions (including stadium development/expansion and financing)

Our experience

Our experience in the sports sector includes advising:

- Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and TCV on their acquisition of a majority stake in Sportradar, including advising on shareholder/governance arrangements, regulatory and anti-trust matters and financing aspects of transaction

- the sponsor on the formation of a joint venture with Dentsu Inc. for the joint investment in Perform Group Limited

- on the sale of up to a 77% stake in The Everton Football Club Company Limited, and advising on the shareholder arrangements between the sellers and Farhad Moshiri

- Dugout on the establishment of a digital football business and a joint venture between Europe’s leading football clubs (including AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid CF). We assisted on every stage of development and have helped in negotiating the original JV with the Clubs, agreeing content agreements between Clubs, players and football federations (such as MLS) with complex IP and branding issues, acquiring businesses such as ballball in SE Asia, on a JV with ALTV in MENA and deals with innovative tech companies like VEWD, SPOTX, Rakuten/Viber and Amazon

- Sir Ben Ainslie and Athena Racing Limited on the £110m formation of a new team (INEOS Team UK) to challenge for the 36th America's Cup in 2021

- beIN Media on the acquisition of Digiturk, the leading pay-TV operator in Turkey and current owner of the broadcasting rights of Turkish Super League

- Mr Dejphon Chansiri on the £30m acquisition of 100% shares in Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Limited from UK Football Investments, LLC and Mr Milan Mandaric

- on football ground financings in relation to Ajax, Arsenal, Chelsea, Hamburg, Leicester City, Wembley Stadium and West Ham (acting for lenders and arrangers in each case)

- on sports stadia financings in relation to the Maroussi Olympic Press Village for the Athens Olympics, the National Stadium in Warsaw and the Singapore National Stadium

- on proposed securitisations of match-day ticket/season ticket revenues for Everton and Newcastle United and a term loan secured on ticket receivables for Lazio

- on proposed whole-revenue securitisations for a leading Bundesliga club and Manchester United and a rights-revenue securitisation for Parma Calcio 1913

- on general financings for Espanyol Football Club, Middlesbrough Football Club, Olympique Lyonnais Groupe and Perugia Football Club

- on player securitisations for several English football clubs

- beIN Sports on the negotiation of the football television rights with Mediapro

- Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing in connection with its challenge for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 assisting with all commercial, corporate, financing and regulatory matters involving the team, including arrangements with sponsors and commercial partners and event hosting

- digital services provider on database and trade mark rights in relation to sporting fixtures and events

- McDonald’s Belgium on its multi-year sponsoring arrangement with the Royal Belgian Football Association

- a global governing body on a range of tax and intellectual property matters

- Visa on its Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship arrangements

- V8 Supercars in relation to its commercial arrangements in the APAC region

- Real Madrid Club de Fútbol on a major international arbitration case under ICC rules related to a contractual dispute

- various entities in relation to a breach of copyright and FIFA statutes in relation to the transmission of league football matches

- the British Olympic Association in relation to an athlete’s lifetime doping ban before the Court of Arbitration for Sport*

- McLaren Formula One in relation to disputes concerning driver contracts and poaching of staff and in all of the so-called “Spygate” and “Lie-gate” sporting disciplinary matters before the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)*

- McLaren Formula One and Lewis Hamilton before 3 regulatory hearings concerning sporting penalties*

- Nike in contentious negotiations with two elite sports teams*

- a major rights owner on a possible challenge to a decision by DCMS to list certain events as UK "crown jewels"

* while fee-earner at previous firm

- Fulham Football Club in relation to the planning application and environmental impact assessment to support the project for a new stadium

- the Polish Government (through its SPV) in relation to the appointment of a general contractor for the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland

- funders to the consortium (Macquarie and Laing) bidding to build the new national sports stadium in Singapore

- in relation to the development and financing of the Maroussi Olympic Press Village for the Athens 2004 Olympics

- the French Government in connection with the public procurement law aspects of the construction of the Stade de France


Please see our Financing experience section for further details/information regarding our stadia financing experience